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Scripps scientists peg wind as the force behind fish booms and busts
Date:2/5/2008

mics monitoring program initiated by Scripps Institution, the California Department of Fish and Game and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations National Marine Fisheries Service, which continues today.

The 50-plus years of CalCOFI data were key to Rykaczewski and Checkleys scientific breakthrough. In addition, research cruises conducted in association with the California Current Ecosystem Long-Term Ecological Research Program allowed the scientists to take a closer look at the relationship between plankton and winds. Rykaczewski also worked with Scripps climate researcher Masao Kanamitsu to compare historic ocean wind patterns with ecological data.

Thats the key, said Checkley a Scripps professor. The rate at which water moves vertically influences the structure of the marine ecosystems out there. Thats the seminal part of this theory.

Rykaczewski and Checkley determined that two atmospheric conditions were the main drivers: coastal upwelling, in which wind forces a rapid rise in cold, nutrient-rich waters from the ocean depths; and a comparable process called wind-stress curl upwelling that occurs offshore in the open ocean.

In both cases, the wind drives upwelling, which supplies the surface ocean with the nutrients necessary to support plankton and fish populations. In the coastal zone, rapid upwelling supports the largest zooplankton, which are the favored prey of anchovies, which possess coarse gill rakersakin to a mesh filtering mechanismfor consuming plankton. In the open ocean, slower but more extensive upwelling sustains a much smaller class of zooplankton, suitable for sardines and their comparatively fine gill rakers.

The scientists say their research suggests that sardines and anchovies do not compete against one another, but rather each takes advantage of the zooplankton available as the climate and winds change.

This research furthers the idea that fluctuations can be explained by natu
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Contact: Mario Aguilera
scrippsnews@ucsd.edu
858-534-3624
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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